In the midst of Wednesday’s reports that Jeff Zucker is set to succeed Jim Walton as head of CNN Worldwide in the new year, Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes sat down with Business Insider’s own Henry Blodget to discuss the rumours during Wednesday’s Ignition 2012 conference in Manhattan.Bewkes remained mum on word that Zucker is set to get the coveted CNN gig, simply telling the audience, “We’re going to have an announcement soon.”
And Bewkes shrugged off the countless reports that CNN currently has its worst ratings since 1982, stating matter of factly that “ratings are not tanking, they’re going up.”
Bewkes argues that the network’s cable ratings, subs, daily watching, earnings, profit, quality of programming and engagement with audience are all up.
“I think a very good example of the strength of CNN was how strong coverage was election night,” he argued, adding that globally “Headline News” gets very strong ratings for the network.
“I think it’s going to be one of the fastest growing networks in the country in the next few years,” Bewkes revealed of his high hopes.
As for the future of CNN, which will have a new leader for the first time in a decade as of Jan.1, Bewkes says it hopes to do “deep analysis coverage on all kinds of subjects.”
“Our aim for CNN is more about that mission,” Bewkes continued. “It’s not as much about ratings as reporting. Same is for HBO, that’s not how you make money at HBO.”
But the Time Warner honcho says that while “ratings matter some,” they are not the only factor in deciding which shows get greenlit on his networks.
“We don’t pick the shows because we think they’ll get the best ratings,” Bewkes said of HBO programming. “That’s not the reason you’re in subscription TV.”
But Bewkes may need a quick refresher on his HBO series, as he did say one of the network’s most popular shows is “Newshour” — we think he meant Aaron Sorkin’s “Newsroom.”